I just found out that my cousin Anne was just diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer. She was in the hospital for kidney failure prior to finding out. The fact that she lives more than a few states away and was dealing with her own ailing body kept her from attending my grandmother’s funeral. We haven’t actually seen each other in over 13 years yet I still feel inextricably tied to her. Perhaps my deep seeded angst comes from our closeness in age and my own mortality or that we shared a few summers of laughter at my grandmother’s house, or maybe it’s the ironic twist that my own sister is so careless with her own life. What ever it is is, I am overwhelmed by her illness.
I sit and think of how young it is to be overcome with something that could shake you to your core. She has 3 kids, all teenagers, but still, that is usually when they need their parents guidance the most. I have thought about what my death would mean to my own children and it chills me to the core even thinking about it. My mother was always such an important person to me, I could not fathom losing her. I still have a hard time acknowledging that my grandmother is gone. I cannot imagine what it means to my mother. I could not imagine losing a child, which is the reality my aunt is now may be facing.
I have no fear of death, rather I have a deep concern for the ripples it would cause in those affected by the death. Life will keep on going after I die. The birds still sang as we brought my grandmother’s ashes to the grave site. The day was warm and bright, the sky was a clear blue as we mourned through a rendition of Amazing Grace. The next day came, and the day after that as surely as the moon followed. I can say that my heart still hurts at the memory of my grandmother, it pangs with the bitterness of my sisters relentless pursuit of near death attempts and it is distraught by the savage beast that is cancer. But through all of this, there still is life. The sun is still warm on our skin. We can still savour a July watermelon sweet on our lips. We can still kiss passionately in the rain. It is not over until it is over, and even then, we can live on for those who go.
There is no death unless everything is gone. I look around and relish all that I have. I drink it up and am so very thankful for the giggles in the morning and the “I love you’s” at night. I still look at the stars with amazement and know just exactly how small I am. I have a connection to the world around me and know that if, and when I should ever go, it is not a tie that will be broken, but more of a tie that will be more spread out. Like a dusting of love. I know that on nights right before bed, I feel the warmth of my grandmothers love is still with me. I feel the strength of my aunt run through my viens when I need it most. I feel their spirit surround me in some way everyday. They are in the rays of the sun that warm my skin and put the sparkle in my eyes.
I am sure that my cousin is relishing her every moment now, fearing that her time will be cut short. It inspires me even more to live my life in truest way I can. To honor myself and her by showing those around me how much they mean to me and by living life to the fullest. I hope that my sister learns from Anne’s illness as well. I hope that she sees how precious life is and how once it is gone, there is no coming back. Not in this life anyway. I will pray for my cousin and send her healing thoughts. I know that if she must go, she will. I just hope that she gets to finish her life with no real regrets and that she knows that no matter what, that she is loved. Life is so beautiful, yet so very short. It is a poem that must end. I hope that we all get the ending we want, filled with hope and love and a blue sky day.